Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Book Review: Where the Forest Meets the Stars, by Glendy Vanderah

Guest review by: Becki Bayley
Turkey Creek Road was the five-mile gravel road that dead-ended at the creek and Kinney property. Driving it took a while, even in an SUV. After the first mile, it got narrow, snaky, potholed, and washboarded, and toward the end it was precariously steep in a few places where the creek washed it out in heavy rains. Jo’s return trip on the road was her favorite part of the day. She never knew what the next bend might bring – a turkey, a family of bobwhite quail, or even a bobcat. At its end, the road brought her to a pretty view of the clear, rocky creek and a left turn that led to her quaint cottage on the hill.

But it wasn’t wildlife she saw staring back at her from the cottage walkway when she turned onto the Kinney property lane. It was the Ursa Major alien and her Ursa Minor dog. The girl was wearing the same clothes as the previous night, her feet still bare. Jo parked and jumped out of the car without removing her gear. “Why are you still here?”

“I told you,” the girl said, “I’m visiting from –”

“You’ve got to go home!”

“I will! I promise I will when I’ve seen five miracles.”

Jo took her phone from her pants pocket. “I’m sorry… I have to call the police.”

I found this book very enchanting from the beginning. I absolutely loved the characters, which is really the key to my heart when I’m reading books for enjoyment.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: Where the Forest Meets the Stars, by Glendy Vanderah
After the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna Teale returns to her graduate research on nesting birds in rural Illinois, determined to prove that her recent hardships have not broken her. She throws herself into her work from dusk to dawn, until her solitary routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious child who shows up at her cabin barefoot and covered in bruises.

The girl calls herself Ursa, and she claims to have been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. With concerns about the child’s home situation, Jo reluctantly agrees to let her stay—just until she learns more about Ursa’s past.

Jo enlists the help of her reclusive neighbor, Gabriel Nash, to solve the mystery of the charming child. But the more time they spend together, the more questions they have. How does a young girl not only read but understand Shakespeare? Why do good things keep happening in her presence? And why aren’t Jo and Gabe checking the missing children’s website anymore?

Though the three have formed an incredible bond, they know difficult choices must be made. As the summer nears an end and Ursa gets closer to her fifth miracle, her dangerous past closes in. When it finally catches up to them, all of their painful secrets will be forced into the open, and their fates will be left to the stars.

I’m worried to say too much about Where the Forest Meets the Stars and give away the ending. I promise there’s a happy ending, but you’ll need to read it to find out the details for yourself.

Jo has purposely chosen a remote cabin for her research project on some local birds. Most ornithologists would have a field assistant, but after several personal struggles, she just wants some peace and solitude. Her solitude is short-lived, however, when a mysterious girl shows up at the cabin wearing just pajamas. Jo soon enlists the help of her nearest neighbor, Gabe, in caring for the girl and trying to solve the mystery of where she came from.

The characters were so engaging, and I really wanted to find out all the good things that could happen for them. The writing in this debut novel is beautiful and so imaginative. I would give it 4.5 out of 5 stars, and I look forward to reading it again.

Becki Bayley is a 46-year-old woman in the SE Detroit area who shares her adventures at


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